Syrian Political Landscape Exposed

The United States has been in com­plete sup­port of the Syr­ian regime since al-Assad, the father, Hafez, who has come to power through a mil­i­tary coup in 1970. Even though the sup­port used to be overt in the past, where US pres­i­dents have per­son­ally vis­ited Dam­as­cus, like in the case of pres­i­dent Nixon and pres­i­dent Clin­ton, dur­ing the era of fight­ing ter­ror­ism, the late Bush admin­is­tra­tion has kept that rela­tion­ship hot but in a covert man­ner due to the Syr­ian sup­port of mil­i­tant orga­ni­za­tions such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Al-Assad comes from the minor­ity Alaw­ite sect, con­sid­ered as heretic sect from Islamic per­spec­tive, and assum­ing power in a coun­try dom­i­nated by Sun­nis would entail get­ting sup­port from a major world power to sub­due the major­ity. The US con­sid­ers Syria a very strate­gic coun­try, so get­ting con­trol of its affairs becomes a strate­gic inter­est for the US. The impor­tance of Syria does not come because of nat­ural resources, as in many other col­o­nized third world coun­tries, but due to its geopo­lit­i­cal impor­tance. First, Syria bor­ders Israel and hav­ing a regime which is friendly to Israel is essen­tial to the US. Sec­ond, through Syria, one can seize con­trol of another coun­try, Lebanon, which is in itself bor­ders Israel too. Third, Syria is at the heart of the Mid­dle East and the Arab world and hav­ing con­trol of that coun­try will help in secur­ing dom­i­nance of the region. That is where the inter­ests of the Alaw­ites and the United States inter­sect in the game of nations!

Dur­ing the Syr­ian rev­o­lu­tion, the US has taken a hands-off approach to the sit­u­a­tion, leav­ing lit­er­ally tens of thou­sands of inno­cent civil­ians get slaugh­tered and raped by this dra­con­ian regime. One would think that due to world opin­ion and human rights, the US might sell out its stake in such a regime and try to help bring it down, as has been sug­gested by the media and other polit­i­cal ana­lysts. The fact of the mat­ter is that the US did not do that for the mere rea­son that doing so neces­si­tates the find­ing of an alter­na­tive lead­er­ship which would secure the US inter­ests in Syria. There is no polit­i­cal nor log­i­cal use of the US help­ing in bring­ing a proxy regime down with­out hav­ing a plan to secure the inter­ests which were served by that proxy.

That is where the US dilemma in Syria lies; you have an oppo­si­tion which is made up of reg­u­lar army defec­tors, which the regime have failed to uproot for a year and a half, that are not orga­nized in any way or form through a chain of com­mand that the US can nego­ti­ate with or influ­ence! What makes the prob­lem even worse is due to this lack of sup­port from the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity and due to the reli­giously con­ser­v­a­tive nature of the Syr­ian soci­ety, you have an Islamic sen­ti­ment that grew very strong within the Free Syr­ian Army, the label which all defected sol­diers oper­ate under. This sen­ti­ment grew so strong that many of the FSA’s units started to call for the estab­lish­ment of an Islamic State in Syria, a demand the US will not agree to ever.

All of the above rea­sons, keeps the US cling­ing to the already sink­ing regime of Bashar al-Assad with­out any real alter­na­tives. The redun­dant request of the Obama admin­is­tra­tion for a peace­ful polit­i­cal tran­si­tion is just the artic­u­la­tion of such despair. For the Syr­ian rebels, hav­ing a unity tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment made up by the same peo­ple who have slaugh­tered and raped almost one or more mem­bers of every Syr­ian fam­ily is ludi­crous. That despair of the Obama admin­is­tra­tion can be best viewed through the words of Sec­re­tary of Defense, Leon Panetta, where he was quoted by CNN say­ing on July 30th, 2012, “I think it’s impor­tant when Assad leaves — and he will leave — to try to pre­serve sta­bil­ity in that coun­try. And the best way to pre­serve that kind of sta­bil­ity is to main­tain as much of the mil­i­tary, the police, as you can, along with the secu­rity forces, and hope that they will tran­si­tion to a demo­c­ra­tic form of gov­ern­ment. That’s a key.“[1]

The US wants to keep as much stand­ing pieces of the old regime so it can use them in the post-Assad era to influ­ence the form of gov­ern­ment and to ascer­tain the loy­alty of the future regime. For the Syr­ian peo­ple, if they are look­ing for­ward for real eman­ci­pa­tion from tyranny and colo­nial­ism, they have to make sure that every sin­gle actor in the pre­vi­ous regime gets side­lined in any future Syria!

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